Pro-Life, Pro Choice? Neither, actually ….. Pro-Compassion.

Before you read, Fair Warning. This is an opinion piece on abortion. If you would rather not read, no offense is taken and I wish you a lovely day. If you do read – I reiterate. This is my opinion, not a statistical factual piece. Thank you.

Twitter does have a habit of throwing the most interesting arguments at me. For instance, the semantic kerfuffle over the is ‘every crime not simply a type of theft’ that eventually spilled over into real life. My take on it, that every crime is the  removal of a right or property and thus more than definitely theft led to me being told ‘my  god you sound like an Amnesty supporter  ‘.  That’s not a terrible epithet in all fairness, I am an avid letter writer and they get their palms crossed once a month, but still. The point I am trying to make is that there are many arguments and debates on the  ‘twitosphere’ (as I saw it called today and quite liked), that I would never partake in outside of that arena.  The reasons for this are manifold – discussing violent domestic abuse or the correct naming of the Higgs Bosun over a  pint at the pub soon leads to madness, if not all out mutiny. Also to my chagrin, my friends are ridiculously intelligent and opinionated. I don’t exactly run at empty on the debate scale but you try taking on a mixture of communists, feminists, writers.  journalists and crazy people and coming out on top about anything. Sitting back and observing with a nice whiskey is more my current metier.

However there are several  issues which I will not sit quietly by on. One of these is the designations used to describe peoples attitudes towards abortion and the often hyperbolic arguments they use to support their cases. Pro-Life and Pro-Choice are tags which used to be an American political tool to judge exactly how debates can be phrased and  won. However these titles are rapidly gaining prominence here, in the UK.  And I despise them and their inherent assumption that they are mutually exclusive. Being pro-abortion or pro-choice does not mean I am anti-life. In fact, I struggle with the term pro-abortion as it seems to imply I want them handed out like candy to teenagers who fucked up on a couple of WKD and made the wrong call. I am not advocating them as a contraceptive tool. But I do not think that they are wrong.  This does not make me anti-life, nor does it make me a murderer.

Pro-Choice means having a responsibility not only to yourself but to the zygote, organism, fetus or baby that you are carrying. This means being compassionate to a thing which isn’t even strictly speaking a person yet. It may still be a blobby little collection of cells with no life force, nothing of its own – and yet you must still show compassion. I believe that if you are unable to care for a baby fiscally, emotionally or environmentally you have a duty to consider whether it is the right thing for you to do. No, this doesn’t mean automatically carrying out the procedure. But if you are currently on the dole, struggling to feed yourself, or heat your home,  if this pregnancy is the result of a one night stand, then you have the choice. By all means if you can still offer many of the non material things like love, and a warm smile, the pure and simple want of a child then you may already know your decision. Many woman choose to bring children into the world despite these conditions or far, far worse, and they are amazing mothers. But I bet a fair few of them thought long and hard.

The woman who made me so angry today, implied that to make this choice would be tantamount to murder. That I should be on death row, waiting to ride the lightning. What pushed me over the edge and made me put this down on paper, is the fact that she refused to answer any of my retaliations. What, I ask about the mother who just found out she is 17 weeks gone as a result of rape? Should she be forced to live with the reminder every day for the rest of her life, watching her attackers DNA fuse with her own – or be given the choice to say no and actually save her own life? How about the fact that tragically woman are every day diagnosed all over the world with illnesses and disease whilst they are pregnant. Should a woman be made to feel guilty for choosing chemotherapy over a 8 week along pregnancy? The child would probably not survive. The woman might.

At its very basest level, I put to her, what about the fact that a animal when it suffers is offered the peace of an easy death. You wouldn’t keep your Labrador alive for months or years in pain and suffering every day, you would take her to the vet and say goodbye and do the right thing. Is that murder?  Why then, would you rather a child be born to a life in a household riddled with domestic abuse, drug use, or to a life that is just not ready for them yet? To parents that don’t want them? As products of affairs, one night stands or pubescent experimenting?

As for is it murder, then that brings up a whole bunch of problems. The real question here is when does life start? First heartbeat? First breath? First independent function? For nine months it is not an independent creation it is a part of you, relies on you for everything. This is a life of a kind, but not yet a person. Still a thing. I do not call this murder. I know someone somewhere will start digging out those images of an abortion by product or medical diagrams to show me just how violent the procedure is. But violence is not murder. Far more violent things are done to the human body in the name of prolonging life – open heart surgery or cracked ribs from CPR attempts to name a few. the idea of when a life starts is unique to each person, and each situation. I know people who named their child in the first 3 weeks of pregnancy. They already decided it was a life. I also know people who pushed it right to the limit as they were unaware. This would mean development had started. It is still, in my eyes, not murder.

I am not going to lie here and pretend I am knowledgeable about this subject. But what I know, and learnt the hard way, is that it is a choice that is never easy. In any way. It is heartbreaking and painful and traumatic and will stay with you for years. Sometimes, you regret not having the abortion when the end result is even worse.  The very last thing needed  is people like this woman, prepared to sit there and fling names and mud and make things even worse.

So to hell with Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. I am Pro-Sensitivity. Pro-Thoughtfulness. Pro-Compassion and awareness.  Anti-Politics and Anti-vindictiveness.

Murderous charity.

Today I accidentally rang a murderer.

Yes I had a similar reaction.  His wife was lovely. She spoke softly and with a countenance that was completely at odds with the news she delivered. Its not every day that you ring the supporter of a conservation charity to hear  something that chills you.

‘He isn’t available…may I ask who is calling?’

‘Oh yes he loves your magazines. I take them to him when I visit, he says it is almost like being outside again. You see he’s in prison, so there’s that.  It was a Chinese girl you see, they had an argument and he hit her with the car.’

‘The pictures make him smile’.

As much as I hate to admit it, I very nearly hung up. Have you ever had the feeling that cement has been poured into your bloodstream? That is the only way I can think to describe it. Everything stopped working. My fingers would not click. My lips would not form syllables. Breathing shuddered. Then I informed her it was lovely to hear and we will make a note on the record. I hung up and opted out of further contact. I logged my phone and walked to the toilet. I threw up into that white bowl and tried to work out just why this freaked me out so badly.

My job is generally safe and sanitised. The most you will hear is abuse about your audacity, or the fact that the charity is not doing what the supporter wishes. Occasionally you get incidents of blistering stupidity or stunningly racist remarks, but these are often from people who just don’t realise that ‘darkie kid’ is perhaps not the best term for an African child, or that ‘those slopes in Fucky-whatsit’ is a less than honourable way to refer to people still recovering from nuclear abandonment. Actual evil, malicious people are rarities. And this wasn’t even aimed at me.  Consolidating the two sides of this person, the man who I looked up at home and discovered to have run a girl over twice because of a spat and a mild mannered charity giver who at one point must have cared about the world he was in…that is just such a strain. I wanted to revoke his right to sponsor us.

After all, call me prejudiced, but why the hell should he be given even the simulation of freedom? Blue skies and whispering glades are not there to be used as an escape from a grey box you put yourself in. Do not paper the insides of your mind with pleasantries you get from people who don’t know what you are.  I sicken  at the thought that his wife will on her next visit, mention the fact a nice young girl rang up and thanked him for his support, that she is glad to hear he enjoys the magazine, that the charity is thankful for his support.

I feel  grubby.

Later I was sat in the pub with friends. I considered telling them and asking their opinion, to judge whether their reactions were as visceral as mine were.  I refrained however – my gut reaction seems too big too overblown and the fear of them judging me for my own reading of the situation stopped me. So I will keep it here and try to forget the day I judged a man I didn’t know by his crime and actions, and found him on balance, wanting.

Confessions of a Charity TeleFundraiser

So I have this dirty little secret. Its not even a fun one like ‘this one time I broke a riding crop across this guys buttocks before I even learnt his name’ (Thas a whole other blog post…). Nope. If anything this is even more sordid. I am a Telephone Fundraiser. I have been sinning for the last six months…and truth be told it feels kinda good. It wasnt originally by choice unless you class choosing to pay rent as a choice. But now Ive settled into my groove so to speak its oddly fun. Yes I am aware that ringing you halfway through Eastenders or at ten to nine on a Friday isnt fun for you, but oh if those telephone lines could talk what madness they would see….

I bet you didnt realise the average fundraiser centre is not actually staffed by charity fundraisers. Nope not a single one. If you pulled a vote in my branche the answers would run the gamut from ‘I’m a struggling journalist’ to ‘Im a screenwriter … used to work for the BBC you know…’ stops off briefly at ‘I produce psy-trance feminist inspired post-metal reactionary musicscapes’ right the way through to clothes designers, artists, photographers, actors and skateboarders. There is I believe, one honest soul who would freely admit that this is a back up for his full time job of selling his homegrown. Thing is all these people come ready equipped with huge egos, If you dont hang the phone up straight after youve told us to fuck off straight to hell and blow Hitler (or whatever your choice of insult is today) you’ll probably hear a full and frank discussion based around midgets in bondage gear, whose open mic night will have the best quality gossip or if you think that this line will work in a stand up sketch about low flying aircraft. Occasionaly you will hear the squeal of glee as someone brings around the sugar bucket and our grubby little hands fight over the Tangfastics. My bosses know their workers, and believe me the mid shift comedown sugar slump is so totally not a good time to be on cold calls.

Mind you, you guys are fantastic. There have been some truly surreal calls. My personal favourite was the gentleman who supports a well known conservation trust. After inquiring if I was blonde or brunette he was informed that I am a redhead. He giggled lecherously into the phone and told me if he got a sample of my hair from you know….the promised land…he would happily help us out. Unsurprisingly that one offer was one I didnt take up.

Oh…and please dont answer the phone to witheld numbers if you are having sex. In fact dont answer the phone at all if you are having sex. If I am trying to sell the concept of saving the lesser spotted civet wren to you then the very last thing I want to hear is the slapping of flesh in the background or the very obviously ill concealed grunts and sighs. When you moan ‘uhhuh….oh yeah…..YEAH’ into the phone I want it to be because you just get carried away with the thought of supporting MY GODDAM CHARITY. If I wanted to dial into a sex line on company time…..well that would be surprisingly easy in all honesty but dont quote me on that.

 

There is a whole deep  dark well of hatred to be plumbed on this topic…but for now I need a cup of tea and to psyche myself up for another longsuffering shift on the phones tomorrow. Or a shot of Absinthe. Whichever comes first.

Short story snippets….

I have been hit with writers block. After a ruthless cull of several pages from this thing, and a desire to start afresh…I have nothing. In fact all I have been taken with a several short stories, and one longer story that I am beginning to fear may never see the light of day! I have a long running fear that the way I write is too….flowery. Ornamental. Self inflated? And so for years no one has read any of it! Well, not knowingly at least…

In an effort to remedy this, here a four short snippets taken from a few of the things occupying me at the moment. Most of them I quite like, but one is very near to being thrown out with the bathwater so to speak. I give you no plot, no indication of which are favourites, how these snippets tie in to the arch, or why. I just want to know if they provoke a reaction for good or bad, hate or love, burn or preserve. After all, to write something that is ‘ok’, that can be passed over for being neither amazing nor terrible is the worst kind of writing there is…

“….Bruises and roses, I have discovered, bloom with the same putrid beauty.  There is little to distinguish between the velvet petals and thorny briar when the hands that place them are one and the same…..”

“…Rainy days, lachrymose skies are misunderstood gifts, shunned by those that would love them. To never raise your eyes to a repeated stormy gray should be a capital crime, to miss that brief commune with the world, the gravest sin….”

“…White butterflies struggled briefly against her ribcage, then were cocooned. Laughter at this juncture would only force a hand that was not ready to be played. Instead she settled on a wordless smile, and prayed that her eyes fought the clichéd window pane…”

“…The belly of the beast is full, no vacancies, no spaces, no refills. Men prostrate, screaming prayers like shields, clapping retribution like manacles, claiming redemption from a malformed religion. You try to fight your way through, benighted by false lust, false agenda, false protest.  Hag-like memories of women who  you once hated  burn  their faces  into a rictus of familiarity.

 The beasts belly bulges.  The light that pillars down leaves hope that there is an escape, a malediction, something other than this place. Yet the worm squirming in your stomach leaves no room for hope. This is not the hell you longed for. This is the Earth of your creation….”

 

 

Post Break up Blues

When you break up with someone, and finally accept you are no longer an item, together, coupled – when that moment of dreaded realisation hits, how exactly does one go about quantifying whether or not the relation ship was a good one? What parameters, what possible scale could possibly do justice to the feelings and moments you want to preserve and evaluate? Perhaps some of us judge the quality by how many souvenirs are left to place in a shoebox stained with tears – dried flowers, a resteraunt menu, a tester strip of his signature scent. Others may feel that if anything is kept it means it is not over, that to keep these scraps of a life in a box only means you are waiting to revisit them, to draw out the pain. However, what if you have nothing to keep? No scraps of paper or ephemeral tat to immortalise this partition, this severance?

So many people, male and female, these days seem to judge a relationship purely on its length.Were they there for a few weeks? Not that important then. A few months? Semi- realistic, almost meant something. A year? That’s a real relationship. However what if the flame that burnt brighter for a shorter time meant more than a protracted slow yet comfortable relationship? I am thinking this, as you have probably imagined, as I have just had the ‘good friends’ chat with a boyfriend of three months. Not partner, he never reached those dizzying plains of togetherness. But boyfriend, yes that covers it. I am not going to name him, he is a private person who prefers the non digitization of his life – so I can only hope he forgives me for using him as the catalyst to this ponderence.

I have known him in total for six months, roughly, been together for half of that. So a three-month relationship – met online, met in person, and yes I tumbled him into bed on the first night – don’t judge me, he was (and still is) a handsome, sweet and amazing man. At first I thought he was perfect (in a quiet whisper in the dead of night I may still admit it) , we shared the same tastes in food, movies, music, people and drinking. And it was all happy. All good. He told me he loved me – I didn’t respond in kind (I wish I had, it may have meant things turned out differently). And then in the space of a weekend it changed, he wanted just friends, we fought I acted like an idiot, secrets were revealed and accusations flung – and it was all over. We are however, good friends, who have seen each other naked.

So how do I class this three-month relationship? Some of my friends call it a fling. Some call it a relationship. Some say bad. Others good. I have come to the way of thinking however it is not the quantity but the quality that I judge this on. And it was great. We laughed, a lot, about everything – even the awkward things. Spent fantastic nights getting drunk in pricey cocktail bars we could not afford. He introduced me to new and exciting music and films – and some disturbing new photographers. He made me drink wheat beers and port with my Stilton. I had never before tried port. Bless him he tried, but I just didn’t like it.I may not have much to put away in that box, but what I do have means a lot.  A Molten Brown handwash, a toothbrush, a cinema ticket stub, a CD. They do perhaps mean more than that which I gleaned from a four-year extravagance of a relationship. In the fullness of time we may lose contact, he may meet someone who is uncomfortable with me, I may move abroad, life happens. I hope not though – I feel he has more to offer, to teach me that I havent yet touched upon and so for now, selfishly perhaps, I want him to stay a part of my life even if not as involved.

This has given me pause in the way I approach relationships however. They are all worth something – just because they do not end in the way you wish them too does not make them any less amazing. Some people enter your life in one role, but are destined to continue in another. Friends become lovers, lovers become the best of friends, enemies become partners, teachers become colleagues. Who knows, he may yet have a very important role to play. It just isn’t the one I originally had mapped for him.

 

Who killed Amy Winehouse?

In the last few days, my generation has finally joined the great and the good decades before us. We have finally constructed our own entry to the 27 club. Forever 27. It has a lovely ring to it, does it not? Suitably romantic and yet tragically desperate, one would think it is a marketing gimmick that exists for no other reason than to appeal to the dissolute youth of today. You know the ones. The ‘emotional’ ones who not only correctly use the word ennui to describe their day to day feelings but actually mean it.

 Amy Winehouse and her death seems to me to be much more than the tragic decline of a talented singer. The fact that the time and date of her death played right into the hands of that well known statistical spike just places the cherry neatly on the cake. She was a young girl that was contorted and moulded by the press and industry to represent something more than the sum of her parts. The intense searing fame she had to endure no doubt was a major contributing factor to her eventual dramatic denouement – but, I put the question to you, how much of a part did you play in her death?

 Before you bluster and bite back, with ‘nothing, I never even met her!’ , consider this. How many times did you read a newspaper column that devoted inch upon sordid inch to her decline and fall? Did you ever read a magazine that delivered to its readers the glossy double page spread  that paid homage to her desperation? Watch the coverage of her final tumultuous shows? Comment on any of the numerous articles about her lifestyle, loves, finances, holidays, bikinis, tattoos, pub crawls, death ? Think about it. I imagine you did.

 The liberties taken with her privacy and life are painful to think about now. Looking back there are things and incidents that could so easily have been avoided. How much would it have pained a journalist to take the decision not to give in to the voyeuristic tendencies of their editors just once? Any of the magazines and columnists could have decided against exploiting this girl to sell their products. Every word and picture printed, every time she opened her door to find flash bulbs in her eyes or tried to get away from the pressures of her life in remote destinations only to find the paparazzi already in residence….another moment that served no reason other than to hurt her.

 Addiction and the downward spiral of the celebrity has become something of a spectator sport these days. It is no longer taboo – indeed track marks and bloody insoles are almost badges of honour. They become inspirational to a certain type of person who craves the validation of their lifestyle that this seems to give. In turn this pushed Amy Winehouse to greater and greater heights. Addiction is not romantic. In fairy-tale parlance, it is a curse. Addiction is not inspirational. It is a ruiner. Addiction is a disease – not a game show that people choose to participate in. Addiction is not a way to sell papers or make money. Yet that is what it is rapidly becoming.

 We all killed Amy Winehouse. We may not have realised it at the time, but we did. Hopefully the lessons learnt from this tragic and unnecessary loss of life are huge and game changing. Perhaps now photographers will think twice about chasing a celebrity addict into the Priory to get that last money shot, or encouraging them to leap to higher levels of depravity all for the sake of good copy.

 However I really doubt this is the case.

Rainy Day today..

It smells like rain today – it is quite beautiful, the cashmere grey of it pervades the office. Many people look at me blankly when I sniff, smile and state ‘it smells like rain’. It is a difficult sensation to adequately describe. Often it hovers just on the edge of smell and registers as a tickle in the back of the nose. Semi burnt and grey, like wet concrete in the middle of the night is the only way really I can pay homage to it. There is probably a complex and long winded theorem as to what the smell actually is, but mythologically I know it is made of intangible elements. They would exist on no table and are immeasurable. Partly water soft as tears, part childhood memories of rain swept beaches and soggy fish and chips eaten under a towel.  A healthy dose of romanticism – first kisses and adventures – and the violent sudden shudder of lightening and thunder.

That is the smell of rain.

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